Are Broken Bones a Birth Injury?


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For parents, there is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain, especially when that child is a newborn. While expectant parents have many things to prepare for as they await the birth of their child, handling a newborn with broken bones is not one of them. Unfortunately, there are mothers and fathers that have to deal with that very thing. Injuries to newborns do occur during childbirth, more often than might be thought, and sometimes these birth injuries were totally preventable.

Broken bones can certainly heal when the right treatment is promptly given to the infant. However, there are cases in which the bones are not set correctly, and the birth injury can become a permanent impairment. The doctor or other medical professional who caused the broken bone during delivery may be found liable for the injury and be responsible for financially compensating the victim if the injury resulted from negligence or error on his or her part.

Most Common Types of Broken Bone Birth Injuries

The bones of a newborn baby are not as strong as those of an adult. That can lead to the baby’s bones being broken during delivery – especially during difficult deliveries in which it’s more likely for medical mistakes to occur. The most common type of broken bones that newborns suffer during delivery is a broken clavicle. However, any of the baby’s bones can be fractured including the bones in the neck, back, leg, ankle, foot, wrist, arm, or hip.

Typically, a baby with a broken bone will not be able to move that part of the body and simply lifting the newborn could cause severe pain depending on the specific injury.

How are Bones Broken During Childbirth?

There are many ways that a baby’s bones can get broken during childbirth. Some of the most common reasons fractures occur are:

  • Prolonged labor
  • The unsafe or improper use of Pitocin (a medication that induces labor)
  • Failing to recognize and properly respond to a baby in the breech position
  • Shoulder dystocia (this happens when the baby is stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone)
  • Assistive delivery methods (using vacuum or forceps incorrectly)

Depending on the specific situation that caused the baby’s bone to be broken, a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional who assisted in the delivery may be held legally liable for the injury and be required to compensate the family for the damages that the injury caused. Whether one of the medical professionals involved in the birth can be held responsible depends on whether the individual is found negligent.

Victims of this type of medical negligence are entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other applicable damages approved by the court. That means that the parents of newborns who suffered broken bones during delivery due to medical mistakes or negligence should seek legal representation on behalf of their child as soon after the birth injury as possible.

How are Broken Bone Birth Injuries Treated?

Treatment for broken bones suffered during the birthing process varies depending on the bone that was broken. For example, when the clavicle is broken, there isn’t really any type of treatment that can be performed other than being very careful when lifting or holding the baby, or in some cases, immobilizing the arm to prevent movement.

Other types of breaks may require that the affected bone be set, or even more invasive treatments (like surgery) may have to be performed. Broken backs and necks, the most severe types of breaks that occur during delivery, may necessitate emergency medical attention, including surgery. In some cases where the back or neck is broken, the injury may not heal correctly, leaving the individual with a permanent impairment. In the worst cases, injuries to the back or neck can be fatal.

When bones are broken, there is often nerve damage as well. This can cause loss of sensation or even paralysis, making the medical complication much more serious than a simple broken bone.

Get Help from an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney

If you are the parent of a baby who suffered a broken bone during delivery, the experienced attorneys at Ross Feller Casey can help. We are among the nation’s leading birth injury law firms and have resolved more major birth injury lawsuits than any other firm in Pennsylvania.

Birth injuries can become lifelong burdens that affect families for generations. Don’t let the birth injury your child suffered go unanswered. If there is a medical professional who is to blame for the injury, our attorneys can help. Contact Ross Feller Casey today for a free case review.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.